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CSKA Moscow have already lodged a formal bid for Anderlecht's towering centre-back, but the Gunners are ready to jump in having lined up talks with the player's agent on Thursday

EXCLUSIVE
By Ed Aarons

Arsenal have stepped up their interest in Anderlecht centre-half Cheikhou Kouyate, Goal has learned.

The 24-year-old, who impressed during Senegal's 2012 Olympic run to the quarter-finals, has already been the subject of a €6.5m (£5.3m) offer from Russian side CSKA Moscow.

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But Arsenal are pressing ahead with their own interest in the defender, with club officials due for talks with the player's agent on Thursday in Belgium.

Kouyate has been linked with a move to the Premier League for some time, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Southampton having all been credited with an interest in the past six months.

But the Gunners look to have stolen a march on their rivals, with the club ready to pay £5m to seal Kouyate's signature.

Speaking on Wednesday, the player's agent, Saffet Balkan, told Goal: “Tomorrow morning I will have a meeting with two clubs in Belgium to discuss Kouyate’s future.

“One is from Moscow and the other is from the Premier League but both clubs have requested that I do not not say which ones. We already have one offer of €6.5m from Russia which Anderlecht are happy with but now we have to finalise things.

"I think he would prefer to play in England because it will suit his style very well. We will see what happens in the next 24 hours.”

Kouyate has been an ever-present for Senegal’s national side since the Olympics, when his team lost to eventual gold medalists Mexico after extra-time.

He was instrumental in Anderlecht’s Jupiler League triumph last season but has now been told he can leave in January.

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